A Definitive Ranking Of The Last 22 Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Photo; Chris Graythen/Getty Images; Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
This Sunday, at Super Bowl XLIX, expect deflated footballs and inflated egos as the Patriots battle the Seahawks and Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz rock the halftime show. Perry's performance will mark the 23rd since Super Bowl halftimes became a thing in 1993, when Michael Jackson used his inimitable artistry and a whole lot of pyro to reinvent the once-dull 15-minute break separating the two halves of the NFL’s annual championship game. Gone were the days of marching bands and lame production numbers — from '93 on, the Super Bowl halftime would become pop’s premier marketing opportunity, a chance for musical superstars young and old to play their hits for millions and move some product, just like the beer companies.

Things don’t always work out for the best (see: Jackson, Janet), but most Super Bowl headliners leave the field triumphant. The finest performances keep butts on couches during what might otherwise be a great time to nuke more nachos, and even the misfires give the world something to talk about for a few minutes. What follows is a definitive ranking of all 22 halftime shows since 1993. Grab some chips, watch the clips, read our quips, and marvel at how far the art of lip-syncing has progressed.